Home Camping Single Wall Vs Double Wall Tent: Pros and Cons

Single Wall Vs Double Wall Tent: Pros and Cons

by wheretheroadforks

Tents fall into two categories: single-wall and double-wall. The ideal tent design for your trip depends on the climate and weather conditions you camp in, how much weight you want to carry, and personal preference. This guide lists the pros and cons of using a single-wall vs double-wall tent. I’ll cover weight, setup time and difficulty, comfort, cost, weatherproofing, condensation resistance, and much more. I’ll also outline the difference between single wall and double wall tents and explain the best uses for each. Hopefully, this guide helps you chose the best tent for your next camping trip.

What is a Single Wall Tent?

Single-wall tents are made from a single layer of fabric, just like the name implies. The walls, ceiling, and floor all have a single layer of material separating the inside of the tent from the outside. The same piece of fabric functions as both the rainfly and sleeping area.

The ceiling, walls, and floor of single-wall tents are all made from waterproof material to keep you dry. Most higher-end and mountaineering single-wall tents are made from waterproof breathable fabric. Some lower-end and ultralight single-wall tents are made from coated, nonbreathable waterproof fabric. The floor is always completely waterproof.

Single wall tents also incorporate mesh insect netting into the walls, window, or door for ventilation. Some models have ventilation slits in the sides with waterproof fabric covers to keep the rain out. Vents and netting help to reduce condensation while keeping bugs out.

a single wall trekking pole tent pitched in the forrest.
A single wall tent

The door opens with a zipper. Most single-wall tents have a mesh door with a waterproof fabric flap that hangs over. This creates a vestibule area where you can store some gear and keep it dry.

Most single-wall tents are non-freestanding. These models use trekking poles for support instead of tent poles. They must be staked out with tensioned guy lines in order to stand and maintain their shape. Some single wall tents are free-standing, meaning they do not need to be staked in order to stand. These come with their own poles, which give the tent its shape.

Single-wall tents are popular among ultralight backpackers, climbers, thru-hikers, and bikepackers who want to carry as little weight as possible and travel as quickly as possible. They also work well for camping in dry and cool regions where condensation is minimal.

What is a Double Wall Tent?

Double-wall tents consist of two separate layers of material. The inner layer is a breathable tent body. The outer layer is a waterproof rainfly. This design allows the tent to be both waterproof and breathable at the same time.

The tent inner is typically made from mesh bug netting, breathable fabric panels or a combination of the two. It should be completely breathable. The outer layer is made from completely 100% waterproof non-breathable fabric. This is called the rainfly. A durable waterproof bathtub floor is attached to the tent’s inner layer.

three double wall tents in the mountains
Double wall tents

Double-wall tents are designed to have a gap between the inner and outer layers. Tent poles separate the two layers. The inner layer attaches to the tent poles, which hold the tent up. The rainfly attaches over the poles and inner layer. Stakes and guy lines hold the walls of the two layers apart.

This design allows for excellent ventilation. Air can pass under the rainfly and through the inner tent, reducing condensation. Moisture can pass through the tent inner and condense on the rainfly. The mesh inner creates a barrier between you and the wet rainfly.

The tent inner features doors and windows that open and close with zippers. The outer rainfly has a zippered flap that opens to allow for entry and exit. At the entrance of the tent or on the sides, the rainfly extends over the ground. This creates a protected vestibule area outside of your tent where you can store items that you want to keep dry but don’t want to bring inside of your tent.

Most double-wall tents are freestanding. The poles give the tent its shape. The tent will stand without being staked down and can be moved around. The rainfly must be staked to the ground to hold it away from the tent inner. Some double-wall tents are non-freestanding, meaning they must be staked to the ground in order to stand.

Double-wall tents are suitable for hiking, climbing, bicycle touring, and travel. They are particularly useful in wet regions where condensation can be an issue.

Single Wall Tent Pros

a non freestanding single wall ultralight backpacking tent.
Image: “Tarp Tent”, by LiAnna Davis, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
  • Lighter- The main reason to choose a single-wall tent over a double-wall tent is to reduce weight. Single-wall tents usually weigh around 0.5-1 lb less than comparable double-wall tents. An ultralight one-person single-wall tent weighs around 1.5lbs (680 grams) give or take a few ounces. To compare, a comparable ultralight double-wall tent weighs 2-2.5 lbs (around 900-1130 grams). Single-wall tents are lighter because they have much less fabric, require fewer stakes, and often don’t include poles. If you’re car camping, a pound difference isn’t a bit deal. If you’re hiking long distance, a pound is significant. When shopping for a tent, keep in mind that some of the weight difference between single and double wall models may be in the tent poles. Most single-wall tents are non-freestanding. You use your own trekking poles to pitch the tent. For this reason, the weight of the poles isn’t included in the weight of the tent. Most double-wall tents have tent poles included. These add weight.
  • Single-wall tents set up faster- Depending on the design, a single-wall tent may take 1-2 minutes less time to pitch than a similar double-wall tent. Ultralight single-wall tents often set up in less than 2 minutes total. They are faster to set up because you don’t have to mess with attaching and staking out a rainfly. This is an entire step you can skip. There are fewer stakes to pound as well. Single-wall tents are also faster to take down because you don’t have to deal with folding up the rainfly or collapsing tent poles. This fast setup time is nice when you’re trying to pitch your tent during a blizzard or rainstorm. It’s also nice for those who move camp every day and those who like to get up early and get moving quickly. You’ll spend less time setting up and tearing down camp when you choose a single-wall tent.
  • More compact- Because they don’t have a separate rainfly, single-wall tents use less fabric. This allows them to pack down much smaller and take up less space in your backpack. I estimate that you’ll save 1-2 liters of space by choosing a single wall tent. You can compress some models in a stuff sack to save even more space. Non-freestanding single wall tents can pack down shorter because they don’t have any poles. This makes packing easier and allows you to use a slightly smaller backpack or fit more gear in your backpack. This comes in handy if you fly to your hiking or camping destination and you want to pack your tent in your carry-on bag.
  • The interior stays dry while pitching the tent in the rain- When you pitch a single-wall tent, you’re pitching your tent and rain protection and tent at the same time. The tent is a single piece. The interior stays dry while you pitch.
  • Fewer stakes required- Most single wall tents only take 4-6 stakes to pitch. Double-wall tents usually take an extra 2-4 stakes. This is possible because you don’t have to stake out a rainfly separately with a single-wall tent. Having to carry fewer stakes saves a bit of weight. Having to pound fewer stakes saves time.
  • Cheaper- On average single-wall tents cost around $50-$100 less than comparable double-wall tents. This is possible because single-wall tents require less material to make. There is only a single layer of fabric. Modern ultralight fabrics are expensive. Most single-wall tent models are non-freestanding and do not include poles. The designs are also simpler. It takes less time and cost less for manufactures to make single wall tents. They can sell them for a bit less.
  • Single-wall tents dry out faster- Because they contain less fabric, single-wall tents take less time to dry when you sit them out in the sun. It’s also a bit easier to lay a single wall tent out to dry because it is a single piece of material.
  • You can often use your trekking poles or no poles at all to pitch a single-wall tent- Single-wall tents are usually non-freestanding. Most models use trekking poles to hold the tent up. This is great for those who hike with trekking poles anyway. It saves weight because you don’t have to carry both tent poles and trekking poles. One piece of gear serves multiple purposes. If you don’t have trekking poles, you could use a couple of sticks broken off at the proper length to hold the tent up. Some single wall tents have a loop on the top that allows you to tie a guy line to a nearby tree to hold the tent up. If you’re resourceful, you can almost always find a way to pitch a single-wall tent. Of course, this isn’t the case with all models. Some single-wall tents require standard tent poles to pitch. These models are usually designed for mountaineering use. The tent poles make the tent stronger so it can stand up under heavy snow loads or in high winds.

Single-Wall Tent Cons

A freestanding single wall tent pitched on a sandy beach.
A freestanding single wall tent
  • Condensation can be an issue in single wall tents- Condensation occurs when warm, humid air comes into contact with cold tent walls. Your body heat warms the air inside of the tent. Your breath, sweat, damp gear, and the environment introduce moisture into the tent. The air outside cools the tent walls. The moisture condenses into liquid water on the inside walls of the tent. Single-wall tents don’t deal with condensation as well as double-wall tents. Condensation can get so bad that water can drip down on you and get you and your gear wet. The main reason is that single-wall tents don’t offer as good of ventilation as double-wall tents. There isn’t as much mesh for the moisture to vent through and evaporate away. It is also easier for your gear to get wet from condensation. Because there is no mesh inner wall to act as a barrier, you can easily dampen your sleeping bag and clothing when your rub up against your tent’s wet interior walls. The liquid water stays in the tent. Luckily, there are a few ways to reduce condensation. You want to choose a good, dry campsite, maximize ventilation, and minimize the amount of moisture you bring into the tent. For more info, check out my guide: How to Reduce Condensation Inside of a Tent.
  • Not as waterproof- Generally, single-wall tents don’t keep the rain out as well as double-wall tents. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, there need to be vents in the walls to allow some air to pass through and moisture to escape. When these vents are open, rain can blow or splash in. When the vents are closed, condensation increases. Either way, you’ll get damp. There is also no dedicated waterproof rainfly. The walls are often made from waterproof breathable materials. Sometimes, these aren’t completely waterproof. This makes it easier for rain to enter. During a heavy storm, water may begin to seep through the walls. As a result, the tent may not be quite as waterproof. Some moisture will build up inside. While camping in a rainy climate, you may consider pairing a synthetic sleeping bag with your single-wall tent. These can keep you warm, even when they’re damp.
  • Cold and drafty- Most single wall tents feature mesh vents to increase airflow. These allow cold wind to blow right through your tent. The tent almost acts like a wind tunnel when the vents are wide open. This helps to reduce condensation but the drafts of cold air can get chilly. You have to deal with a windchill factor. You’ll want to make sure you use a decent sleeping bag when camping in a single-wall tent. You may want to avoid using a single-wall tent during the cooler shoulder seasons.
  • There is a learning curve to using a single-wall tent- In order to stay dry and comfortable in a single-wall tent, you need to be careful about how and where you pitch it. Pitching a single-wall tent properly can be a challenge. For example, you’ll need to properly tension your guy lines and secure your stakes so your tent doesn’t fall down. You need to make sure the fabric stays taught when pitching a single-wall tent. This ensures that the vents stay wide open and the tent doesn’t sag. This improves airflow, reducing condensation. You also need to know how to select a campsite. Campsite selection is more important when camping with a single-wall tent because of condensation issues. You should look for a site that is slightly elevated above the surrounding landscape and away from any bodies of water. These areas tend to stay dryer.
  • Can be expensive- Ultralight single-wall tents are a specialty item. They are designed for ultralight thru-hikers and are built from expensive ultralight materials. Most models are made by hand by cottage manufactures. Quality single-wall tents tend to be high-end and fairly expensive. If you’re on a tight budget, you may be better off with a cheaper double-wall tent. That said, there are some affordable single-wall tents on the market these days.
  • Less space- Single-wall tents tend to have smaller vestibules and less floor space inside. This is because single-wall tents are designed to be minimalist shelters. Everything is as small and lightweight as possible. As a result, there is less space for storing gear. The vestibule might only offer 4 square feet of space. Some minimalist models don’t even have a vestibule. There is also less space for moving around inside of the tent. The ceiling might be lower as well. This leaves less headroom, which can be a problem for taller campers. Single-wall tents can feel cramped. Entry and exit can be more difficult as well due to the small interior size.
  • Less versatile- Single-wall tents are best for camping in dry weather and cool climates. They are not ideal for use in humid, rainy, or warm climates. If you plan to use your tent to camp in a wide range of weather conditions and temperatures, a single wall tent may not be the best choice.
  • You can’t enjoy the view- Single wall tent walls are made from fabric. Most models don’t have any windows. This makes it harder to see out of the tent. You can’t enjoy a night sky or mountain view from the inside of your single-wall tent unless you look through the door.
  • Uncomfortable- Many campers find single-wall tents to be less comfortable than double-wall models. Condensation and poor waterproofing make it easier for you and your gear to get wet. Drafts can cause you to get chilly in the night. The small interior space makes the tent feel cramped. The discomfort can cause you to get a poor night of sleep.

Double Wall Tent Pros

Double wall tents pitched in the mountains.
  • Less condensation- Double-wall tents deal with condensation better than single-wall tents. When moisture evaporates, it passes through the mesh inner tent and condenses on the inside of the rainfly. The stakes and the tent poles hold the rainfly away from the mesh tent inner. This way, the condensation essentially exits the tent so the mesh stays relatively dry. When you or your gear rub up against the mesh inner walls, you won’t get wet. There is very little condensation transfer in double-wall tents. When enough condensation forms on the inside of the rainfly, water droplets roll down the walls and drip onto the ground. This is possible because the edges of the rainfly extend beyond the tent inner. Double-wall tents also tend to ventilate better than single-wall tents. Air can freely flow under the rainfly and through the mesh inner. Of course, you still have to be careful about campsite selection and your tent pitch when you use a single wall tent. Condensation can get bad if you’re camping on wet ground during a warm night. Water can evaporate from the ground and raise under your rainfly and condense. If your tent isn’t pitched taught, condensation can drip into your tent.
  • Most double-wall tents are freestanding- This means the tent can stand on its own without being staked to the ground. The included tent poles give the tent its structure by putting tension on the tent fabric. Freestanding tents offer a number of benefits over non-freestanding. First, you can pitch them in more places. You don’t need soft ground to pound stakes into or support structures to tie guy lines to. You could set the tent up on a solid surface like an asphalt parking lot. Next, you can move a freestanding tent while pitched. This comes in handy if you accidentally pitched your tent on a root or rock. You can pick the tent up and move it to a flatter spot. Freestanding tents are also easy to pitch because they set up the same way every time. You don’t have to worry about adjusting a trekking pole. If a stake pops out, the tent won’t collapse. Of course, not all double-wall tents are freestanding. This is a matter of design.
  • You’ll stay dryer in a double-wall tent- Double-wall tents stay dryer than single wall tents for two main reasons. First, there is better ventilation, which reduces condensation. As a result, the inside walls stay dryer. You’re less likely to get wet when you brush up against the walls. Second, the double-wall tents are more waterproof. The rainfly is made from a sealed and completely waterproof material that covers the entire tent. It does not have vents and you don’t have to worry bout water seeping through. It does an excellent job of keeping the rain out. If you camp in wet weather frequently, you’re better off with a double-wall tent.
  • Some double-wall tent models allow you to pitch the rainfly first- This feature comes in handy while pitching your tent during a storm. You can set up the rainfly first so the tent inner stays completely dry. In order to do this, you’ll need a tent footprint that was designed for your specific tent model. Usually, the poles attach to the edges of the tent footprint and stand on their own. You then attach the rainfly over the top of the poles. Finally, you can clip the tent inner to the poles. Not every double-wall tent is designed to pitch the rainfly first but many offer this function these days. If you camp in the rain frequently, this is a nice feature to have.
  • Warmer and less drafty- Double-wall tents don’t need as many vents because they deal with condensation better. The benefit to this is that you’ll experience fewer drafts of cold air blowing through the tent. You don’t have to deal with as much wind chill factor. The inside of the tent may stay a couple of degrees warmer because more of your body heat will stay in the tent. This makes double-wall tents a better choice for early spring, winter, and late fall camping when the weather is chilly.
  • Double-wall tents are more spacious- Generally, double-wall tents have more floor space. This is the case because they are a bit less minimalist. The ceiling may be higher as well. This means you have more space for storing gear and stretching out inside. The extra space makes double-wall tents ideal for taller or larger campers. You’ll have more space to sit up and move around. The tent may be easier to crawl in and out of as well. Double all tents often have larger vestibules as well. A one-person model might have 8 square feet of vestibule space. Of course, this all depends on the design.
  • More versatile- If you buy a quality double-wall tent, you can use it to camp in pretty much any weather conditions. Double-wall tents perform well in rainy weather, cold weather, and hot dry weather. Double-wall tents are also suitable for a wide range of climates. They work well in humid regions, hot regions, and cold dry regions. If you only have the budget for one tent and you want to use it to camp in a wide range of conditions, a double-wall tent is your best choice.
  • Easier to pitch- With a double-wall tent, there is a bit more margin for error when pitching. Your guy lines don’t have to be tensioned perfectly. You just have to make sure the rainfly is held away from the tent inner. If the weather is calm, you might not even have to stake the tent out if it’s freestanding. If a gust of wind blows a couple of stakes out of the ground during the night, the tent will probably remain standing. There is also no learning curve to pitching a double-wall tent. You just follow the instructions and it pitches exactly the same way every time.
  • Better view- Most double-wall tent inners are made from see-through mesh. If you don’t install the rainfly, you can enjoy a panoramic view of your surroundings and the beautiful night sky. There is nothing better than falling asleep under the stars in an area with no light pollution and waking up to an incredible mountain view. Of course, you can only do this if you don’t expect any rain.
  • More comfortable- Because there is less condensation, fewer drafts, and more space inside, many campers sleep better in double-wall tents. When you get a better night’s sleep, you feel more energetic the next day. This allows you to enjoy your trip more. It can be worth carrying a bit of extra weight if it means you’ll sleep better.

Double Wall Tent Cons

A double wall tent under a starry sky.
A double wall tent without the rainfly attached.
  • Heavier- Double-wall tents typically weigh 0.5-1 lb (226-450 grams) more than single wall tents. The lightest double-wall tents available weigh around 1 lb 12 oz. To compare, the lightest single wall tents weigh around 1lb 1 oz. The added weight comes from the extra fabric of the rainfly, extra stakes, and tent poles. Whether or not this weight difference matters depends on how you plan to use the tent. For short hikes, bicycle touring, and car camping, an extra pound isn’t a big deal. If you’re thru-hiking a 2,000-mile trail, the extra weight is significant. The weight can also be an issue if you’re traveling with your tent. Airlines have strict luggage weight limits.
  • More expensive- Double-wall tents cost around $100 more than comparable single-wall tents. On average a high-end double-wall tent costs around $350-$600. A comparable single-wall tent costs $250-$500. Double-wall tents are more expensive because they require more materials to manufacture because of the second layer. The designs are also more complicated. This makes double-wall tents more time-consuming to build. In addition, most double-wall tents include tent poles and extra stakes.
  • Bulkier- Because double-wall tents have more material, they don’t pack down quite as small. The separate rainfly, poles, and extra stakes add a bit of bulk. The packed tent will also be longer because the poles can only collapse down so short. Most double-wall tents measure around 12-15” long when packed because of the poles. The larger packed size of double-wall tents means you’ll need to use a slightly larger backpack or carry less gear to make room for the tent. On the trail, an extra liter or so of bulk usually doesn’t really matter. You can strap the tent to the outside of your pack to make more space inside. If you’re traveling to your hiking destination, the packed size may be worth considering.
  • More time-consuming to set up and take down- Double-wall tents take 1-3 minutes longer to set up than single wall tents, depending on the design. To pitch a double-wall tent, you have to assemble the poles, pitch the tent inner, attach the rainfly, then stake everything out. Most models take around 4-5 minutes to pitch. To compare, single-wall tents often take just 2-3 minutes to pitch. Double-wall tents take longer to set up because it takes time to attach and stake out the rainfly. This step isn’t necessary with single-wall tents. The tent takes a bit longer to break down as well because you need to spend time removing and folding up the rainfly separately from the inner tent. On freestanding models, the tent poles take more time to place and remove and assemble and collapse than trekking poles. When you use a double-wall tent, you’ll spend an extra 2-5 minutes per day on setting up and taking down camp. If you stay in one camp for multiple days at a time, a few extra minutes of setup is no big deal. If you move camp every day or you like to get moving quickly in the morning, the extra time adds up.
  • The interior can get wet while pitching the tent in the rain- Many double-wall tents require that you pitch the tent inner before the rainfly. The problem is that the inner is usually made from mesh. A bit of rain can get in while you’re fumbling around with the poles and attaching the rainfly. If you’re fast, you’ll get about 1-2 minutes worth of rain in your tent before you can place the rainfly. During a heavy storm, a lot of water falls in this amount of time. The inside of your tent can get soaked. If you camp in a rainy climate often, you should look for a double-wall tent that allows you to either pitch the rainfly first or attach the rainfly to the tent inner before placing the poles. These models stay dry while you pitch.
  • More stakes are required- Double-wall tents generally require more stakes than single-wall tents because you have to stake out the rainfly separately from the tent inner. This is necessary to hold the rainfly away from the tent inner. Most models require 6-8 stakes to properly pitch. To compare, most single wall tents only require 4 stakes. The extra stakes add weight. It also takes more time to pound the stakes. It is important that you use enough stakes so that the rainfly is always held away from the tent inner. This helps you stay dryer.
  • Slower to dry- Because double-wall tents have more fabric, they take more time to dry out. This can be annoying if your tent gets absolutely drenched during a heavy storm. You’ll have to set it out in the sun to dry.
  • You need tent poles- Most double-wall tents use proprietary poles that are designed for one specific tent model. The poles must be the correct length and have the correct pattern to work with the tent. You can’t use trekking poles or generic tent poles to pitch most double-wall tents. This is because the poles must hold the tent inner and rainfly apart. The main problem with this is that new poles are hard to come by if you break one. You also can’t pitch your double-wall tent without the proper poles. If you break your poles, you can’t just go to a sporting goods store and buy a new one because there are too many different designs for stores to carry spares. You have to order new poles from the manufacture and wait for shipping. If you’re in a remote area, this is a problem. These tent poles also only have only one use. If you use trekking poles, you’ll end up carrying more weight.
Looking out at the ocean from inside of a double wall tent pitched on the beach.
A camper enjoying the view from inside of their double wall tent.

A Note About Freestanding Vs Non-Freestanding Tents

Another important decision you’ll have to make when choosing a tent is whether it has a freestanding or non-freestanding design. As mentioned earlier, the majority of single-wall tents are non-freestanding and the majority of double-wall tents are freestanding. That said, you can buy single or double-wall tents in either freestanding or non-freestanding designs. In this section, I’ll outline the difference between freestanding and non-freestanding tents and the pros and cons of each.

For more in-depth info, check out my complete guide to freestanding vs non-freestanding tents.

Freestanding Tents

A freestanding double wall tent.
A freestanding tent

Freestanding tents maintain their structure without needing to be staked out. To pitch most freestanding tents, you attach the included tent pole(s) to the corners of the tent and bend them upward. You then clip the tent fabric to the pole structure. The tension between the bending poles and tent fabric gives the tent its shape. Some lower-end models require that you feed the poles through pockets that are sewn onto the top of the tent. Freestanding tents can be picked up and moved around while pitched. You still need to stake the tent to the ground to prevent it from blowing away in the wind.

Non-Freestanding Tents

a non freestanding single wall pup tent.
A non-freestanding tent

Non-freestanding tents must be staked to the ground in order to maintain their shape. A pole (usually a trekking pole) holds the tent fabric up. The tension of the guy lines on the tent fabric prevents the pole from falling down. Without the stakes attached to the ground, a non-freestanding tent will collapse on itself.

To pitch a non-freestanding you must first pound stakes in to the ground. Next, you attach guy lines to the stakes. The other end of the guy lines attach to the tent fabric. You then wedge a pole or poles between the ground and roof of the tent vertically. Finally, you adjust the tension on the guy lines so the tent fabric is taught.

If the ground is too hard to pound stakes, you can tie the guy lines to trees or hold the guy lines in place with rocks. If you don’t have a pole, you can use a stick or trekking pole. Some non-freestanding tents have a loop on top. You can tie a rope between the loop and a tree branch to hold the tent up if you don’t have a pole.

Pros and Cons of Freestanding and Non-Freestanding Tents

Each tent design has its own set of benefits and drawbacks. Freestanding tents can be pitched anywhere because they don’t need to be staked down. They are a little easier to pitch because they pitch exactly the same way every time. You can also move the tent around after it’s been pitched. This comes in handy if you accidentally set up your tent on top of a root or rock. Freestanding tents also tend to be a bit sturdier. They perform better in wind and rain. Condensation is less of a problem as well. The main drawback is that they are heavier and bulkier. The poles are also fragile and difficult to replace if they break.

Non-freestanding tents are lighter. They also pack down smaller. In addition, non-freestanding tents give you more options for pitching. You can use trekking poles, tent poles, sticks, or a rope to hold the tent up. There are several drawbacks. Non-freestanding tents are a bit less versatile because they need to be staked down. You can’t easily pitch them on a solid surface. They can also be a bit more difficult to pitch. You need to properly stake them out and tension the guy lines so the tent stays up. If a heavy wind blows on your tent and a stake pops out, the tent can collapse on you. Condensation can also be a problem.

Who Should Choose a Single Wall Tent?

Ultralight hikers, thru-hikers, climbers, and travelers often prefer single-wall tents due to the lightweight and compact design. Single wall tents are also ideal for camping in alpine environments. These areas are typically dry with relatively low humidity so condensation isn’t an issue. Single wall tents were initially designed for mountaineering. They are also a great choice for those who hike with trekking poles. You don’t have to carry separate tent poles if you choose a trekking pole tent.

Who Should Choose a Double Wall Tent?

Double-wall tents are ideal for those who camp in wet and humid environments. They offer better rain protection and more ventilation to reduce condensation. As a result, you’ll stay a bit dryer. Double-wall tents are also a great choice for those who don’t care as much about the weight and packed size of their tent. If you’re car camping, bicycle touring, or just taking a short hike, you might as well go with a double wall model. Double-wall tents are also ideal for those who can only afford one tent. You can use the same tent in pretty much all weather conditions and climates. If you don’t hike with trekking poles, you may be better off choosing a double-wall tent that is freestanding.

A Few Tent Recommendations

REI Co-op Flash Air 1 Tent

This ultralight single-wall non-freestanding tent from REI has a packed weight of just 1 lb 10.5 oz and packs down to 16 x 6 inches. You can pitch it with trekking poles or the included tent poles. One excellent feature is the side entry which makes the tent easy to climb in and out of. I prefer side entry tents for this reason. A two-person version of the same tent is also available.

River Country Products Trekker Tent 2

This 2 person single-wall trekking pole tent weighs in at 2 lbs 12 oz. It packs down to around the size of a football. It has a spacious interior measuring 7 feet long and 5 feet wide with a peak height of 42 inches. Poles are not included. For the price, this is one of the lightest tents available. It would be a great choice for an ultralight hiker on a budget. River county products offer a great range of affordable 1 and 2 person single-wall trekking pole tents.

Tarptent Protrail

This ultralight single-wall trekking pole tent from Tarptent weighs just 26 oz and packs down into a stuff sack measuring 14” x 4” x 4”. The tent sets up in just 1.5 minutes. It also offers excellent ventilation.

NEMO Hornet 1 Tent

This ultralight double-wall semi-freestanding tent has a packed weight of just 2 lbs and packs down to 19” x 4.5”. It’s one of the lightest and most compact double-wall tents available. The single-pole design makes the tent incredibly fast and easy to pitch. The side door and tall ceiling make the tent easy to enter and exit.

Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL

This double-wall semi-freestanding tent has a packed weight of just 2 lbs and packs down to 5” x 18.5”, making it one of the lightest and smallest double-wall tents available. One nice feature of this tent is the almost vertical walls. This gives the tent a roomy feel inside. The tent pitches with a single pole. This is a semi-freestanding tent. You have to stake it out to take advantage of all of the interior space.

I have used this tent pretty extensively while bicycle touring and hiking over the past couple of years and have been really happy with it. My only complaint with this tent is that the front-facing door makes it a bit difficult to climb in and out of. This tent is also available in a 2 person model. For more info, you can read my full review of the Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL1 here.

My Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 1 Tent

Final Thoughts

Your shelter is one of your most important pieces of camping gear. You want to choose a tent that will keep you dry and comfortable in the conditions you plan to camp in without weighing you down too much. The choice between a single-wall and double-wall tent really comes down to weight and the climate and weather conditions you plan to camp in.

If you expect rain or high humidity while camping, you’re better off with a double-wall tent. The ventilation is far superior. If you’re hiking in a high altitude area and you expect dry and cool weather, you may be able to get away with a single wall tent because condensation isn’t as much of an issue in these conditions.

Ultralight hikers who are looking for the lightest and most compact possible setup are better off with a single wall tent. If weight isn’t as much of a factor for you, you’ll probably be more comfortable in a double-wall model. Whichever type of tent you choose, I hope this guide has helped you in making your decision.

Where do you stand on the single wall vs double wall tent debate? Share your experience in the comments below!

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